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Rudy’s Jazz Room

With Rudy’s, Nashville gains a new place to appreciate this town's many jazz players.

Written By:  Jenna Butz

Photographers:  Supplied

From outlaw country to indie rock, Music City is known for fostering growth in nearly every musical genre—but, there’s one that, until recently, remained untapped in this town.

“I always wanted a really good jazz club in Nashville, and I knew what it could be because, living in New York City, I got to experience what they are,” Adam Charney says. “Over the years, I’ve seen a few attempts in Nashville, but no one’s really done it right.”

Thus, the Nashville native, along with his business partner, fellow native Mike Braden, decided to take matters into their own hands and open Rudy’s Jazz Room, an intimate jazz club just outside the Gulch on Gleaves Street, last year.

After working as a software developer for 16 years, Charney, who worked at the same company as Braden, had the self-proclaimed “crazy idea” to open a jazz club in Nashville.

The idea would bring both partners back to their roots. Charney’s passion for music stemmed from learning to play guitar with Regi Wooten of the Wooten Brothers when he was in high school—he now handles all of the music and programming that comes through the jazz room. Braden, who has a New Orleans heritage, pulled from recipes that had been passed down through his own family for generations in order to create the club’s culinary program.

“Nashville has a unique situation in that there’s a ton of jazz musicians here ... kind of hidden because they’re the guys who are doing the session work and backing the country artists. There’s just not a place for them to play,” Charney says. “We have the talent here, and, at this point in Nashville’s life cycle, now we have the patrons here, too.” 

Specifically, Rudy’s aims to make jazz accessible to Nashville’s younger demographic. By combining Prohibition-style cocktails and traditional New Orleans cuisine with jazz styles that range from Latin fusion to traditional ’30s swing, the club has created a trendy atmosphere modeled after some places you might find in New York’s Greenwich Village.

“We have such a vibrant, young community that wants to go out and do interesting things. In the arts … it hasn’t been tapped yet,” Charney says. “I think jazz is hip, and many young people would be in to it, if they were exposed to it properly.”

And that includes introducing them to many of the signature dishes found in jazz’s home city. Pulling from his family recipes, Braden’s menu is full of traditional, New Orleans-style fare, such as gumbo, red beans and rice (they also have a vegan version), and beignets. Patrons have praised Braden’s culinary team for getting the food right.

“It’s a time thing. It’s gotta cook,” Braden says. “It takes time, and you can’t rush it.”

Combining scratch-made cuisine with Nashville’s untapped jazz talent earned Rudy’s the “Best New Venue” accolade from Nashville Scene’s “Best of Nashville” readers’ poll—but Charney says that’s just the beginning.

“I think we’re going to be a staple, like an icon, in Nashville. Kind of like the Station Inn is for bluegrass. The Nashville jazz club is Rudy’s,” Charney says. “People have described us as one of the hidden gems, but I don’t think we’re going to be hidden much longer.”

809 Gleaves St, 615-988-2458; rudysjazzroom.com

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